By Fr Matthew d’Hereaux
As we continue the work of building Church in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, the faithful has been asking, “So, what is the difference between the Parish/Pastoral and the Ministry Animation Team (MAT)?”. Others have asked, “Are the Parish/Pastoral Council members’ role now redundant or, are they no longer needed?”.
Let’s deal with the latter question first. By way of comparison, the ministry of a confirmation teacher does not make the First Communion teacher redundant; the Ministry of the youth leader does not make the Ministry of an altar server redundant.
These Ministries collaborate and work together in a parish for the formation of our young people. Similarly, the MAT works with the Parish/Pastoral Council. Both ministries are needed in a parish to fulfil the mission of Christ.
Let’s go now to the question of the difference between the Pastoral Council and the MAT. The Parish/Pastoral Council carries an administrative role and responsibility for the entire parish.
With the parish priest/parish administrator, the Council envisions how it is to best participate in the Ministry of the bishop to: ‘govern’, ‘teach’ and ‘sanctify’ the people of God in a particular parish.
The parish priest and council work together: praying, dreaming, examining, implementing and evaluating structures and processes in the parish to ensure the parish is becoming that place where the gospel of Jesus Christ is lived and experienced. We can say the Parish/Pastoral Council has a global vision for the parish.
The MAT is not as global in outlook. Instead, it is focused on the animation of Ministries. It is not global; it is particular in outlook. It ensures that Ministries of a parish are formed, sustained and developed to meet ever-changing needs and circumstances of a community.
By way of an example of collaboration, let’s talk about an ‘imaginary parish’ X. In parish X, the parish priest and council discern that there is need for the pastoral care of old, sick Catholics and non-Catholics in the parish, who are being abandoned by their families to live in poverty and squalor.
As a Christian response, the parish priest and council say that a Ministry ought to be developed to respond to this crisis.
The priest and council envision and authorise it. The MAT forms it and the parish priest commissions it. After the commissioning of the ministry, it is the responsibility of the MAT to develop and sustain it over time.